Energy Solutions

Last-Minute Shopping List for Christmas

Posted on December 22, 2009 by Alex Wilson

You’re down to the last few days before Christmas. You’re looking for that meaningful, special gift for a family member, special friend, or co-worker. Buy a gift that keeps on giving—by saving energy! Below, is my top-10 list of energy-saving holiday gifts.

Vacuum-Insulated Windows

Posted on December 16, 2009 by Alex Wilson

Last week we took at look at one way to achieve very-high-performance windows: adding additional layers of glazing and multiple low-emissivity (low-e) coatings. This week, we’ll look at another option that’s even higher-tech: vacuum-insulated glass.

Making the Case for Triple-Glazed Windows

Posted on December 8, 2009 by Alex Wilson

It won’t surprise many of my readers to learn that I’m a fanatic about energy conservation and efficiency. That goes back more than 30 years to the mid-70s. During those years I’ve paid a lot of attention to windows--and seen dramatic improvement in window performance.

High-Tech Windows with Dynamic Glazings

Posted on December 2, 2009 by Alex Wilson

Last week I wrote about one of the innovative building materials that I saw at this year’s Greenbuild Conference in Phoenix (phase-change drywall). This week, I’ll cover a very different innovation from the conference: dynamic window glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill..

Storing Heat in Walls with Phase-Change Materials

Posted on November 24, 2009 by Alex Wilson

I just returned from the Greenbuild conference in Phoenix. This annual event, now in its eighth year, has become the leading locus for exchange of information about the rapidly growing green building movement. This year’s event drew some 22,000 attendees, including architects, builders, engineers, developers, and manufacturers, from the U.S., Canada, and dozens of other countries.

Update on a Wood Chip CHP Plant for Brattleboro

Posted on November 19, 2009 by Alex Wilson

A little over a year ago I reported on the efforts of a local organization, Brattleboro Thermal Utility (BTUBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. ), to develop a wood-chip-fired “combined heat and power” (CHP) plant for the town. In that column I reported that BTU, on whose board I sit, was trying to identify a company to carry out a preliminary feasibility study for the project; we were also seeking funding for that study.

Drying Clothes With Less Energy

Posted on November 13, 2009 by Alex Wilson

Last week, we took a look at how to save energy and water with clothes washing. This week we’ll turn our attention to drying, which accounts for approximately 6% of all household electricity consumption in the U.S.

The Clothes Washer Revolution

Posted on November 3, 2009 by Alex Wilson

In the 1980s, when my wife and I were expecting our first child, we decided it was time to give up our weekly adventure at the laundromat and buy our first clothes washer: a used Maytag. It was rugged and generally dependable despite its age, but it had a big drawback: it used about 50 gallons of water to wash a load of laundry. Our house was served by a spring that often ran dry in the late summer, so we had to watch our water use very carefully. It wasn’t too long before we decided to replace that Maytag.

Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariffs

Posted on October 27, 2009 by Alex Wilson

Vermont made history last week, becoming the first state to offer “feed-in tariffs” for electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

Feed-in tariffs have been used since the early 1990s in Europe, most notably in Germany, to jump-start the photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (solar electricity) industry. In a nutshell, they are government-mandated, long-term power purchase contracts for electricity generated by renewable energy systems at rates that are significantly higher than the market rate for wholesale power.

Improving Water Heater Efficiency

Posted on October 21, 2009 by Alex Wilson

Last week I wrote about a high-tech solution for water heating--heat-pump water heaters that can cut costs by more than half compared to conventional electric water heating. This week, I’ll address the low-tech efficiency side of water heating.

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